Thursday, March 31, 2011

Scott's Folly Rejects Common Sense

What folly is subscribed to by Dot Scott, President of the Charleston NAACP? Simply this: the belief that any charter school in the Charleston County School District is in reality a plot to create an all-white public school. Conspiracy theorists take note: Scott may also believe that it's a plot by the Bilderbergers to create an all-white school in CCSD. The reality is that reality itself has impinged on Scott's monomania. When the Charter School for Math and Science was just a gleam in the eyes of its well-integrated organizers, she predicted that they planned to create an all-white school. Flash forward to today. What has happened is that CSMS is the most integrated school in the entire district. Take that, Scott! Ludicrously, Scott proposes that the district not enlarge the old Rivers building to meet the demands of this highly successful school at a time when that same district has access to hundreds of millions of dollars in funds provided by the recent one-percent sales tax increase. Or, she would prefer that its iconic auditorium be destroyed. In conjunction, Bill Lewis suggests that he has "left over" funds from other building projects that might be used. Huh? They talk about Lowcountry Tech, and I do mean "talk." Scott proposes to halt the growth of a successful, integrated school or destroy an historic auditorium useful to the community for a CCSD program that doesn't exist and that parents in District 20 (downtown) want placed at Burke High School when and if ever it gets off the drawing board! Get a grip, Dot. Full disclosure: Scott doesn't live on the peninsula, nor does she now have children in school on the peninsula, nor has she ever had children there. Maybe she forgot.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orange Grove: What Freedom Can Do

One of the most racially diverse schools in the Charleston County School System can brag about an achievement gap between black and white students of only 2.4 percent in English and 1.2 percent in Math, as compared to the district-wide averages of 20.1 percent and 26.5 percent, respectively. Close to being statistically insignificant. And the CCSD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to renew the charter for Orange Grove Elementary. Could it have done as well if the school had not been a charter? Not likely! Kudos to Principal Larry DiCenzo and his staff. He pointed to instituting a phonics-based reading program that isn't on the state's approved list and the charter's freedom to purchase and use it. Double kudos.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New CCSD Board Members Ask Too Many Questions

New board members should be seen and not heard.

That's how the adage goes, isn't it? Well, at least in the world of Superintendent Nancy McGinley and the obsequious chairman of the Charleston County Schools Board of Trustees, Chris Fraser.

Fraser posits the unusual idea that when new members are elected, they should stick with the opinions of those they replaced instead of representing the taxpayers who elected them. Rather like President Obama's announcing that, despite being elected as a Democrat, he intended to reinforce all of the policies of the previous administration (admittedly, some would say that he largely has! Still).

Why did Fraser sent an email to all board members asking them not to revisit old issues (at the bequest of the Superintendent, no doubt)? Because Mary Ann Taylor and Cindy Bohn Coats are asking too many questions that were ignored in the past and remain unanswered. Why, good grief, Taylor and Coats even set up a meeting with Bill Lewis, Michael Bobby, and Troy Williams to get some answers. Heaven forbid! That one had to be nipped in the bud before causing too much "work" for the district.

Where have we heard this song and dance before?

Sample questions include such old chestnuts as

  • What are the benefits of rebuilding versus retrofitting Sullivans Island Elementary?

  • Have any contract service providers (such as Heery) ever been approached by any CCSD employees or school board members (past or present) seeking and/or initiating favors?

  • Where are the demographic data to support CCSD's choices for where to place schools? To size them?

  • What is the CCSD transportation bus cost?

  • Where have Fraser students been transferred since its closing? What tracking data have been kept on each to see if the new school's program is effective?

It's a good list. Fraser and McGinley will do their best to ignore it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Principal Proposals Drive CCSD Opponents Together

My husband's retired British army uncle had a favorite saying about himself: "I'm so far right that I meet myself coming around the other side."

So maybe that is what occurred recently in the Charleston County School District when the superintendent proposed moving principals at Burke and North Charleston High Schools. Suddenly, constituents who frequently find themselves on opposite sides of her plans now find agreement on that one. And they're not for it, either. How else to explain agreement between Dot Scott and Elizabeth Kandrac? Joseph Darby and Mary Ann Taylor?

Shakespeare said it first: politics makes strange bedfellows.

We may have just witnessed the first act of Superintendent McGinley's removal.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lack of License Puzzle for CCSD's Lewis

William H. Lewis (aka Bill Lewis), Executive Director of Facility Improvements for CCSD, does not now and never has had a professional engineering license in the State of South Carolina. As a naval officer with an engineering degree, he didn't need one.

Now that he's not in the Navy, why does he use "P.E." after his name on his correspondence and his letterhead? Why does it appear after his name on an endorsement posted on the website of Heery International, a company employed by CCSD and now under criminal investigation by the DeKalb County Schools?

Misleading at the very least. Makes you wonder what else he's misled us on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Do the Principal Shuffle in CCSD

From one failing school to another: Principal Benton of Burke High School will become interim principal of North Charleston High for the next year only while a nationwide search for the perfect principal occurs.

How many principals has North Charleston High School endured in the last six years?

Maybe the "principal shuffle" is part of the problem. Or should I say the superintendent, since she's the one shuffling them?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CCSD Slaps Public in Face with Ticket

For Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley, "open meeting" means open to supporters of her administration, not to her critics.

How else to explain the ticketing of Henry Copeland for meekly attending Tuesday night's informational session on budget cutting at Burke High School? Copeland, who sat in the back and said nothing, will appear in court to challenge the right of CCSD to "close" its meeting to someone who is a resident of District 20. He's demanding a jury trial.

Just the presence of a taxpayer who understands more than most what really goes on at 75 Calhoun strikes fear into CCSD's administration. Really, what does it have to hide?

Emerson just stepped out of his league.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Outsourcing in CCSD: Privatizing for Dummies

Meeting attendees at Burke High School this week had the right idea concerning balancing the budget of the Charleston County School District. Naturally, the P&C's reporter pegged them as "confused."

Why outsource day-porters for savings? After all, they are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to compensation.

A much better idea would be to outsource our expensive administration.

That's right: privatize the superintendent and her cadre. Imagine how much money could be saved!

Who doesn't believe a private company could run the district more efficiently with less money?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

CCSD Wants Feedback? Give It an Earful

By any measure, the Charleston County School District finds itself in an awkward position: it touted a one percent rise in the sales tax as a way to forgo a rise in property taxes--and won.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Now it must explain to the public that none of the millions from that extra sales tax can be used for its most basic budgetary needs--running and staffing its schools. Thus, unavoidable budget cuts loom. CCSD holds informative meetings for feedback.

What could anyone possibly say at one of these meetings that would make any difference?

Just think. Charleston County will have the best looking, state-of-the-art school buildings in the state, but it won't be able to pay the salaries of the teachers it needs for its students.

On the other hand, if CCSD had raised property taxes, it wouldn't be able to spend millions on seismic evaluations or renovating bus stops.

What a trade off.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Goodloe-Johnson's CCSD Legacy

The furor has been building in Seattle ever since a state audit of former CCSD Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's Seattle administration revealed hanky-panky with financial affairs. And her financial guru came to Seattle with her from, wait for it, the Charleston County School District.

And she left behind her protege, now Superintendent Nancy McGinley. Don't you wonder if the Broad Institute covers this sort of thing?

For sure, Seattle is a place where everyone doesn't just assume that people are doing the right thing; unlike the "good old boys" of the South, they trust but verify. And look what happens!

Seems as though many detractors of the present CCSD administration have called for a proper audit of the district to no avail. Could be a wake-up call.

Is there any way to get the state involved?

Does the State Superintendent have the power to investigate?

Do our local legislators care? Or are they pawns of the Chamber of Commerce also, the one touting its victory in handing millions more over to Bill Lewis to provide full employment to his friends?

Ask Chris Fraser.